Northern Ireland news

More than 220 people awaiting hospital admission as health service comes under intense pressure

More than 220 people were waiting to be admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland yesterday amid pressure on the health system caused by the Covid-19 pandemic
Marie Louise McConville

MORE than 220 people were waiting to be admitted to hospitals across Northern Ireland yesterday amid intense pressure on the health service.

According to daily dashboard figures from the Department of Health, hospitals were operating at 103 per cent of their capacity.

Figures at 9am showed that 2,979 beds were occupied - 76 over capacity - with 445 being taken up by people who have coronavirus.

Hospitals operating above capacity were Altnagelvin, Antrim, Causeway, the Mater, Royal Victoria, South West Acute and the Ulster.

Separately, of the 110 intensive care beds available, 44 were occupied by people with Covid-19 and 53 others by non-Covid patients, leaving just 13 available.

Of those in intensive care, 74 were being ventilated, including 37 coronavirus patients.

The City Hospital in Belfast has the most number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care, followed by Altnagelvin and the Causeway.

Earlier this week the Northern Trust urged people not to attend Antrim Area Hospital unless they required urgent medical care because it was "operating beyond capacity" with 27 sick patients awaiting admission.

Yesterday The Irish News reported how nursing staff in the north are under severe pressure unlike anything they experienced during the first wave of the pandemic.

The Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland said nurses were working amid "a severe shortage of staff which is compounded by the number of nurses isolating or affected by Covid-19".

Health minister Robin Swann said yesterday the health service was not in a position where intensive care patients would need to be transferred to hospitals in the Republic due to a lack of capacity.

"I hope we have the ability to flex up our ICU capacity in the City Hospital tower - there are up to 158 beds there alone," he said.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride also said he did not anticipate Northern Ireland exceeding its surge capacity for intensive care beds.

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